There are many fun hand clapping games for kids. Clapping games help develop interpersonal communication, hand-eye coordination, singing, and the ability to multitask.
It doesn’t matter what era you grew up in, chances are you’ve learned a few hand clapping games. As a kid you likely spent hours practicing the claps until you perfected the routine. As an adult, I’m sure you can still do the clap and song that you learned at school.
In the sections below, I’ll share the most popular hand clapping games in the USA. I’ve included several videos of the clapping to help you learn.
Well-known games like Mary Mack have a specific clap routine, but don’t be afraid to make your own clap routine as well. You’ll also notice that words and verses can change over time (if it rhymes, it’s close enough).
The Best Hand Clapping Games For Kids (Plus Video)
1. Mary Mack
Miss Mary Mack, is a hand clapping favorite and one that most children have learned in school. I still remember clapping to this game in elementary school.
It was a great way to grab the attention of students and it taught memorization, singing, and hand-eye coordination.
The origins of this hand clapping game are difficult to nail down, however, there are rumors that it could date all the back to the Civil War and the Merrimack warship or the Battle of Hampton Roads.
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No matter where the game originated, it has made American kids laugh and smile for generations!
Miss Mary Mack, Mack, Mack All dressed in black, black, black With silver buttons, buttons, buttons All down her back, back, back She asked her mother, mother, mother For 50 cents, cents, cents To see the elephants, elephants, elephants Jump the fence, fence, fence They jumped so high, high, high they reached the sky, sky, sky And didn’t come back, back, back Till the 4th of July, ly, ly She asked her mother, mother, mother For 50 cents more, more, more To see the elephants, elephants, elephants Hit the floor, floor, floor They jumped to the floor, floor, floor they stubbed their toe, toe, toe and that was the end, end, end of the elephant show, show, show
2. Stella Ella Ola
Stella Ella Ola is an easy-to-learn hand clapping game for groups of kids (ideal for groups larger than 3). Children sit in a circle and hold their hands open to their side.
The right hand rests on top of their neighbor’s hand and their left hand goes under their other neighbor’s hand. Children sing the song and clap with each word until the final word (five).
The song will end and the last person will move inside the circle. The song restarts each time with less children playing (easy video example).
Stella ella ola, clap clap clap Say yes, chicko chicko, chicko chicko chak Say yes, chicko, chicko, allo, allo Allo allo allo Say one, two, three, four, five
3. Apples On A Stick
Apples On A Stick is another popular clapping game primarily found in the United States and in the UK. It’s more popular with girls, although boys are welcome to play as well (and the lyrics can be adapted).
Also note there is some interesting language (could be considered inappropriate). The clapping part of the game is quite complex and the last verse is done with eyes closed.
Make sure you watch the video to do it correctly (video here).
Apple on a stick makes me sick, Makes my heart beat two-forty-six, Not because you’re dirty, not because you’re clean, Just because you kissed a boy behind a magazine. Girls, Girls, wanna have some fun, Here comes Susie with her hoop skirt on, He can wibble he can wobble he can even do the splits, But I bet you ten bucks that he can’t do this. Close your eyes and count to ten, If you muck it up you’re not my friend. (eyes closed) 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10, You didn’t muck it up so you’re my best friend.
4. A Sailor Went To Sea
A Sailor Went To Sea is a fun hand clapping game that is easy for young kids to learn. The clapping is fairly basic, as are the lyrics, so it can be learned in just a few minutes.
Children should be paired with another student of equal ability. A few repititions of clapping and singing and it will become catchy!
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A sailor went to sea, sea, sea, To see what he could see, see, see. But all that he could see, see, see Was the bottom of the deep blue sea, sea, sea. (song can continue by replacing “sea” with another verb)
5. Down By The Banks
Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky has been around for a long time. I’d imagine that many people know it from the 1980s and 90s, but I don’t doubt it’s been around longer than that.
This is a two-person clapping game with optional lyrics to make the game longer. I did some research to see if there’s a river or lake named “Hanky Panky” and found a bay in Illinois (but it might be a nickname).
If you know the origins of this game let us know (watch the video here)!
Down by the banks of the Hanky Panky, Where the bull frogs jump from bank to banky, With a hip, hop, hippity, hop, Leap off a lily pad and go kerplpp! (optional religious verse) Here comes Noah Walking in the back Steps on a hammer and builds the arc Here come the animals 2 by 2 Hippopotamus kangaroo
6. Please Porridge Hot
This hand clapping game has been around since 1760 when a version was shared in John Newbery’s Mother Goose’s Melody. It’s an easy game to learn and just as easy to sing.
Young kids will like this game the most, although they probably wouldn’t like to eat the pease porridge (quick video of the game).
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Pease porridge hot, pease porridge cold, Pease porridge in the pot, nine days old; Some like it hot, some like it cold, Some like it in the pot, nine days old
7. Down Down Baby
Those of you who know the 1990’s hip hop artist Nelly will surely recognize these lyrics (although there is some adaptation). The hand-clapping game is relatively new compared to others on this list, but it’s fun, none-the-less.
Nelly’s song was catchy with a slow rhythm, making it ideal for a hand clapping game.
Down, down, baby Down by the roller coaster Sweet, sweet, baby I’ll never let you go Shimmy, Shimmy KoKo Bop Shimmy Shimmy Pow Shimmy, Shimmy KoKo Bop Shimmy Shimmy Pow
8. Pretty Little Dutch Girl
Pretty Little Dutch Girl has been known in the United States since the 1940s. The subject of the game is a Dutch girl, however, the references to location are in the U.S.
Memorizing the lyrics to this game will take a little while longer due to its length. There are many variations.
I am a pretty little Dutch girl, As pretty as I can be, be, be, And all the boys in the baseball team Go crazy over me, me, me. My boy friend’s name is Fatty, He comes from the Senoratti, With turned-up toes and a pimple on his nose, And this is how the story goes… My boyfriend gave me peaches, My boyfriend gave me pears, My boyfriend gave me fifty cents And kissed me on the stairs. I gave him back his peaches, I gave him back his pears, I gave him back his fifty cents And kicked him down the stairs
9. Cup Game
The Cup hand clapping game will take a while to learn. It’s a good weekend project for girls and they will spend hours until they get it right.
Though young kids might struggle with the game, adolescents will learn it quickly. The game consists of clapping and moving a cup (picking up and putting down).
There is a rhythm to the game and words, which gets faster and faster as it goes.
Clap clap 1,2,3 Clap my cup Clap off the wall Switch my cup
10. Four White Horses
The Four White Horses hand clapping game is a challenging activity for kids and adults. The lyrics are easy, but the song requires a good voice, making it a good game for choir and singing classes.
The game consists of groups of 4 (sometimes more) who stand in a circle. Partners across from each other clap together, as do partners to each side.
Clapping can be made easier or more complex depending on the age of the group.
Four White Horses hand clapping game is a good test of hand eye coordination and singing skills. This is a multitasking challenge (view video here)!
Four white horses on the river Hey, hey, hey, up tomorrow Up tomorrow is a rainy day Come on and join our shadow play Shadow play is a ripe banana Hey, hey, hey, up tomorrow Up tomorrow is a rainy day
11. Nobody Likes Me
Nobody Likes Me is a perfect rhyme for a hand clapping game. I had difficulty finding the clapping instructions, so I’d recommend making your own clap to this rhyme.
The lyrics are funny and permissible for children, although eating worms is gross (it’s supposed to be funny). Because of its length, the lyrics will take some time to learn.
Introduce this to your students or children and allow them to be creative with clapping!
Nobody likes me Everybody hates me Guess I’ll eat some worms Fat ones, skinny ones, oochy, goochy goo ones, Ones that squiggle and squirm First you cut the head off Then you suck the juice out Then you throw the skin away Nobody knows how girls can live on worms Three times a day Boom da de da da, boom boom
The Pat-A-Cake rhyme with hand clapping is a wonderful exercise for young kids to learn. The combination of memorization, singing, and action make it a learning activity for kids.
I remember learning this as a child and I’ve seen countless parents teach their kids. Learning Pat-A-Cake is part of being a child in the United States (one of the easiest, but if you need the video it’s here).
Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker’s man. Bake me a cake as fast as you can Pat it, roll it and mark it with a “b” Put it in the oven for baby and me Patty cake, patty cake, baker’s man. Bake me a cake as fast as you can. Roll it up, roll it up, And throw it in a pan. Patty cake, patty cake, baker’s man
13. Charlie Brown
This is a clapping game about going downtown to see Charlie Brown. There are various endings and some have similarities with the Down Down clapping game mentioned earlier.
I’m not sure if this is a well-known clapping game because kids like to make up their own lyrics (which is great too). Use these rhymes and add to it (video here)!
I went downtown To see Charlie Brown, He gave me a nickel To buy a pickle, The pickle was sour, So I bought a flower. The flower was dead, so this is what I said. Down down baby, do the roller coaster.
14. Say Say Oh Playmate
Chances are, you’ve heard of the song “Playmate”. Most girls throughout the 20th century are probably familiar with the clapping game. It’s even popular in modern days.
Many singers have covered the song over the years (including Willie Nelson), which was originally performed by Charles Johnson.
It’s a fun song and the clap keeps the rhythm (find the video here).
Say, say, oh playmate, Come out and play with me And bring your dollies three Climb up my apple tree Shout down my rain barrel Slide down my cellar door And we’ll be jolly friends Forever more more more more Say, say, oh playmate I cannot play with you My dolly’s got the flu Boo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo Ain’t got no rain barrel Ain’t got no cellar door But we’ll be jolly friends Forever more more more more
15. Double Double
If you’re looking for a tongue twister, double double is the clapping game for you. It’s a simple rhyme scheme, however, it can become confusing when said quickly (and that’s what makes it fun).
The words are easy but clapping is challenging because the hands are rotated with each clap. It’s a great method to get children active and energized.
Need an ice breaker to start the morning? Introduce the double double hand clapping game (view the video here).
Double double this this Double double that that Double this Double that Double double this that
16. Long Legged Sailor
The toughest part of learning this hand clap is the clapping routine – the song is easy and can be learned within minutes. The lyrics are fun for young kids and will make them laugh.
Add the challenge of a clapping game and kids will entertain themselves for at least an hour. Just be prepared to hear the long-legged sailor song for weeks to come (video for Long Legged sailor).
Have you Ever, ever, ever In your long-legged life Seen a long-legged sailor With a long-legged wife No I’ve never ever ever In my long-legged life Seen a long-legged sailor With a long-legged wife
17. Lemonade Crunchy Ice
Lemonade is a girls hand clapping game that is fun to sing and easy to clap. The lyrics are simple and made for summer!
Clapping is rudimentary which is perfect for younger children and it’s meant for 2 participants.
The game ends in a game of freeze (first person who moves loses). View the video here.
Lemonade, crunchy ice Sip it once, sip it twice Lemonade, crunchy Ice Made it once, made it twice Turn around, touch the ground Kick your boyfriend out of town Freeze Optional verse: Lemonade, crunchy ice Beat it once, beat it twice. Lemonade, crunchy ice Beat it once, beat it twice. Turn around, touch the ground Freeze
18. Crocodile Oh My
I’ve heard from several people that Crocodile Oh My (or Crocodilly) is a hand clapping game, although the lyrics are a little strange.
It’s a group game where children are standing or seated with open hands. As children sing the song, they clap the hand next to them (one after another) until the song finished.
The last hand that is slapped loses and must sit out the next round until there is a winner.
Croc croc croc Stay see mah jigga jigga jigga jock Flow flow flow flow flow One two three four five
The ABC is a fun kids hand clapping game that is great for children of all ages. It’s a long rhyme but it’s easy to learn and catchy. Once your kids start practicing, they won’t stop until they get it.
ABC has references to MTV so this is definitely from the 1990s (or was adapted then). Other references in this rhyme are timeless (jellybean, riding a bus etc.) Watch the video.
ABC is easy as 123 My mama takes care of me, my daddy watches MTV Oh my I want a piece of pie Pie too sweet, want a piece of meat Meat too tough, want to ride a bus Bus too full, want to ride a bull Bull too fat, want my money back Money too green, want a jellybean Jelly bean not cooked, want to read a book Book not read, want to go to bed Bed not made, want some lemonade Lemonade too sour, want to take a shower Shower too cool, want to go to school School too dumb, want to suck my thumb Thumb to dirty, want to ride a birdy Birdy to slow, and that’s all I know So close your eyes and count to ten And if you mess up, start all over again!
20. Miss Susie
Miss Susie is a playground hand clapping game. It got it’s start as a song for jump roping and could be from the 19th century because it mentioned steamboats.
In the 21st century, there have been many verse adaptations, all using an a-b-c-b rhyme scheme.
You’ll notice that each verse ends with a profane word and that word starts the next verse. It’s best for older kids and due to the language, it might not be good for younger children. Watch the video.
Miss Susie had a steamboat, The steamboat had a bell, Miss Susie went to heaven, The steamboat went to… Hello Operator, Please dial Number 9, And if you disconnect me, I’ll kick you from…
21. Dr. Pepper
The Dr. Pepper hand clapping game got it’s start in a 1970’s commercial (by Dr. Pepper). It must have been a great marketing approach, as the hand clapping game still exists today!
The clapping sequence is simple, so young kids can learn it. The lyrics are straight forward and easy to learn.
Add the Dr. Pepper hand clapping game to your repertoire and entertain your kids for hours (video of this hand clapping game)!
I drink Dr. Pepper don’t you know It’s the most fizzy thing that I know And the thing about pepper That makes Dr. Pepper I’m a pepper you’re a pepper Don’t you want to be a pepper Be a pepper, drink Dr. Pepper Be a pepper, drink Dr. Pepper
Fun hand clapping games are created to keep people of all ages entertained. Primarily for kids, these games remain in our memories forever. I remember siblings and friends enjoying hand clapping games when I was at school decades ago.
I remember learning Mary Mack in 1st and 2nd grade.
Hand clapping isn’t just for fun. The games are helpful for a variety of early learning objectives including:
- Following instructions
- Group activity (social skills)
- Hand-eye coordination
Whether you’re a parent or teacher, consider using clapping games to keep your child engaged mentally and socially. It beats having them sit in front of a television or play video games.
You might think that these types of games are outdated or something kids won’t enjoy. Don’t be fooled, they are timeless and once your kids begin the process of learning these games, they won’t want to stop until they’ve perfected it.